The preliminary results from a NSW Government-funded University of Sydney trial show a significant improvement in chemo-related nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. 

The CannabisCINV study, being conducted by the University of Sydney, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse hospital and the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, has found that a quarter of the patients taking medicinal cannabis experienced no vomiting and nausea, compared to 14 % of people who took a placebo.

The pilot phase of the study ran for two-and-a-half years with 81 participants enrolled. To be included in the study, patients had to have already experienced nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy despite having taken nausea prevention medication.

Study lead Associate Professor Peter Grimison from the University of Sydney School of Medicine and medical oncologist at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse hospital said: “Nausea and vomiting are among the most distressing and feared consequences of chemotherapy.

“These encouraging results indicate medicinal cannabis can help improve quality of life for chemotherapy patients.”

Side effects such as sedation, dizziness and drowsiness were rated as moderate to severe in about one third of people using medicinal cannabis, but these were considered manageable.

Professor Grimison said: “More than four in five patients said they preferred having cannabis despite some side-effects because they had better control of nausea and vomiting.

“The trial will now move to a larger phase to determine with much more certainty how effective medicinal cannabis is and whether it should be considered for use in routine cancer care.

“The next phase of the trial is ongoing and will recruit an extra 170 people,” he added.

The medicinal cannabis for the trial is being supplied by Tilray, a GMP-certified medical cannabis producer and the results from the trial have been published in the Annals of Oncology.

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